From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Wednesday, March 9, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Wolves 3, Aeros 1Official Box Score
Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves for his seventh straight win, and Tommi Santalas game-winning goal extended his point streak to 13 games, as the Chicago Wolves edged the Houston Aeros 3-1 at Allstate Arena. Colin Stuart added a shorthanded goal, his first tally of the season, and Travis Roche tacked on an empty-netter for the Wolves, who improved to a dominant 22-6-4-1 at home.
Junior Lessard scored Houstons lone goal and Josh Harding, bidding for a fourth straight win, turned aside 21 shots.
Chicago improved to 9-1-1-1 in its last 12, and it is just two points behind West Division leader Milwaukee. Houston fell in regulation for the first time in seven games (4-1-2-0). The Aeros remained one point behind third-place Cincinnati with two games in hand, and also six points clear of Grand Rapids, a 4-2 home loser to Manitoba tonight.
Houston wraps up its Midwest swing Thursday in Milwaukee at 7 p.m. before returning home to face San Antonio on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. on Bandana Night. All Elite Fleet full season ticketholders and 22-game package holders are invited to a post-game autograph session with select Aeros.
Chicagos Karl Stewart was sent off for goaltender interference after he ran Harding only 11 seconds into the game, but it was the Wolves that struck. Nearing the end of the Houston power play, Brian Maloney stole the puck behind the Aeros net and quickly fed Stuart, who poked the puck by Harding for his first goal of the season.
Less than a minute later, Stewart again bumped Harding, this time after the whistle, but it was Houstons Todd Reirden that got called for roughing.
Houston hit the post twice in the first period, first Kirby Law with six minutes left and then Mark Cullen on a shorthanded breakaway with three minutes remaining. Seconds later, Chicagos Kip Brennan clanged a shot off the pipe.
Harding single-handedly kept the Aeros within a goal with time winding down in the first, snaring a Stewart breakaway attempt with his glove.
The second period was a tight checking one, with just 11 total shots.
Harding again flashed the leather past the games midway point, robbing Maloney on a 3-on-2.
Santala made it 2-0 Chicago with the teams 4-on-4 early in the third, extending his point streak to 13 games with his seventh goal. Roche, a former Aero, fed a streaking Santala, just off the bench for a line change, and the Finnish forward got a shot over Hardings blocker at the 3:25 mark.
Houston fell to 2-11-2-1 in its last 16 games when allowing a third-period goal. The Aeros entered the game with a league-best 38 third-period tallies allowed, but they yielded two tonight.
The games only fight came with 7:59 left, and it saw Houstons Joey Tetarenko battle with Brennan, who earlier skated away from the challenge.
Santalas goal was needed, when Lessard poked in his second attempt at a rebound with 4:05 remaining. Kyle Wanvig and Cullen got the assists on the play.
With Harding pulled for the extra attacker, Roche found the empty net from more than 160 feet out with 52 ticks left for his 13th goal and third against his old team.
The Aeros finished 0-for-3 on the power play, while Chicago went 0-for-5. Houston hasnt scored on its last 14 man advantages.
The Aeros scratched Chris Heid, Erik Reitz, Bill Kinkel, Stephane Veilleux, Christoph Brandner and Derek Boogaard.
Aeros winger Marius Holtet played for the first time since February 19, when he suffered a concussion on an elbow by Chicagos Kyle Rossiter.
Santalas 11-game assist streak was snapped. His 13-game point streak is one shy of Manchesters Michael Cammalleris AHL season-high.
In 12 of Hardings 14 non wins, the Aeros have scored two goals or fewer.
Harding is 3-5-1 this season versus Chicago, and 11-8-1 against the remainder of the AHL.
Aeros defenseman Brent Burns turned 20 today.
Houston hasnt won in regulation in Chicago in 15 attempts.